By The Glass
Delicious young wines a bargain, too
Some time ago I wrote a column advocating "deliciousness" in wines -- an aspect that sadly seems to go unnoticed by the wine press. From my perspective, it is a quality we should celebrate foremost.
Think about it in a different light. Isn't deliciousness one of the main criteria in evaluating a restaurant's food? If the food is not delicious, would you return?
The same should hold true with wines.
With higher end, more collectible wines, deliciousness usually shows when the wine has been cellared for a while. All of the wine's components then have a chance to harmonize and come together, smoothing out all of the hard edges.
But it is also possible to find deliciousness in young wines. You just have to find the right wines. Here are a few:
2005 Kuentz Bas Alsace Blanc ($10): Typically, this bottling blends several regional grape varieties, the percentages varying from vintage to vintage. The goal is an elegant, pretty, wonderfully perfumed, refreshing white, ideal for afternoon sipping and appropriate with a wide range of lighter fare. With this wine, one certainly gets a lot of deliciousness for the dollar.
2005 Pure Evil Chardonnay ($11): It really is getting harder to find delicious chardonnays. Many, because they are aged in oak -- and because of winemakers' attempts to craft vanguard, award-winning wines through use of ultra-ripe grapes and mega extraction -- have hard edges that require some bottle age to smooth out. On the other end of the spectrum, a growing number of un-oaked, cool-climate, somewhat under-ripe chardonnays are coming onto the market with searing acidity levels. Pure Evil is a great value that you can judge others by. Clean, refreshing, seamless and delicious, all at a terrific price.
2005 Domaine Thivin Cotes de Brouilly ($20): Of course, I must mention at least one French beaujolais. Beaujolais has to be one of the world's centers for delicious wines. I am not referring to tutty-fruity, mass produced beaujolais, which have a surreal bubblegum smell. This delicious version will introduce you to the world of artisan, naturally produced, cru beaujolais. Many wine professionals are beginning to better understand their sensational food compatibility, in addition to their obvious deliciousness. This benchmark from the outstanding 2005 vintage should set a new standard for true beaujolais for you.
2006 Summerland Pinot Noir "Santa Barbara" ($18): It is getting harder and harder to find interesting, well-made pinot noir for less than $20 a bottle. And demand far exceeds supply. Here is a pretty, feminine, light and fruity Santa Barbara pinot, which revels in deliciousness. Buy it quickly; deals like this don't stay on shelves long.
2004 Boutari Nemea ($15): A friend on the Big Island recommended this Greek red wine to me. Don't even think about pronouncing or remembering the grape variety -- agiorgitiko -- unless you speak Greek. At least, don't ask me to remember it. What I will remember is this wine's cornucopia of red fruit, exotic spices and slightly rustic edge, ideal for serving with Mediterranean-styled foods. I will also remember how it deliciously glides down with every swallow. Take this opportunity to try something new.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org